How Much House Can You Afford in the NJ Real Estate Market?

NJ real estate

As a prospective first time home owner, it can be easy to get caught up in the dream of finding the perfect house without adequately taking your finances into account. In the rush of excitement, things like down payments, property taxes, and closing fees can be pushed to the back of your mind. You might find yourself in love with a property only to realize it is way out of your budget when the final numbers are laid out. When you first start the home buying process, it can be hard to know how much house you can actually afford. Before you jump into looking at houses, it is important to determine a realistic real estate budget. If you are looking own NJ real estate, here are some tips:

Know your take home pay.

Before you can start browsing property listings, you’ll need to become uber familiar with your current financial situation. Determining your take-home pay is a great first step to figuring out how much house you can afford. Your take-home pay is how much money you bring home in a month once taxes and other contributions are taken out of your paycheck. Unless you have a hefty savings that can cover the full price of a house, this monthly take-home pay is the money you will be using to cover your monthly mortgage payments on the loan you will take out to purchase the house.

Determine the length of your loan.

When it comes to a real estate loan, there are three major aspects to consider: the term, the interest rate, and the principal. The term of the loan is how long it will take for you to pay back the loan in full, including interest. The average mortgage term in NJ is 30 years.  Every home loan will come with interest. Interest is the amount that is in addition to the principal amount you will pay back to your lender. Mortgages have compound interest, meaning the interest is calculated monthly based on the overall debt you owe that month. You will be able to pay less in interest if you can afford higher monthly payments over a shorter period of time.

Decide on “fixed rate” or “adjustable rate.”

The amount of interest that will accrue on your loan will depend on whether you have a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. A fixed-rate loan has a locked interest rate. If it starts out at 4.2% it will always be 4.2%. This is typically the better option, especially if you can lock in a low interest rate, because your monthly payment will never change. With an adjustable mortgage, your interest rate will change with the fluctuations of the real estate market. This means you could end up with a very high interest rate over time.


Your total monthly loan payment is the biggest determining factor in determining how much house you can afford.


Allocate funds for an adequate down payment.

Most real estate experts suggest allocating no more than 25% of your take-home pay on housing expenses. If you can keep your housing expenses to less than 25% of your take-home pay, you should be able to manage the rest of your monthly living expenses comfortably. The size of your down payment can make your monthly more affordable. The more money you put down, the less money you will have to borrow (and repay.) It is generally suggested to put down at least 10-20% of the purchase price of the home. If you can afford a 20% down payment, you will not have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can result in big savings on your monthly loan payment.

Of course, the money you borrow from a lender isn’t the only thing to consider when buying a home. You must also remember to calculate and prepare for:

  • Property taxes
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Closing costs
  • Renovations (if applicable)

All of these things will have an impact on your monthly costs for housing and your ability to afford a particular property. Buying a house is a major financial investment. Thankfully, there are plenty of online tools to help simplify the process for you. SmartAsset.com offers a free mortgage calculating tool that includes the home insurance and taxes you can expect to pay as a home owner in New Jersey.

Becoming a homeowner is a cause for celebration, but the process itself can also be very stressful. Veitengruber Law is a full service real estate law firm in NJ. We can help you through all of the financial aspects of the real estate process so you can focus on the excitement of your new home.

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